Sleeping on a bamboo bed in the middle of the mountains, pounding rice, drinking rice coffee, experiencing how to cook native chicken, cooking bats, walking a 4-km beach at night to look for turtle eggs and being eye to eye with a whale shark are only a few experiences of my time in the Philippines. For more than four months I changed my life as an MSc student on Forest and Nature Conservation in Wageningen University in the cold Netherlands to the position of an intern within PRRM in warm Manila. Doing an internship is part of my MSc program and I chose to do this in the Philippines.
Expectations were overruled by the numerous real experiences: fascinating, warm, controversial, eye-opening and life changing. PRRM offered me an experience of many regions and people by writing case studies on coastal resource management, micro-hydro projects and sustainable health. The broad amount of topics enabled me to look into fields that are directly linked to my study program but also offered me insights into other fields of interests and the links between them.
I think it is a must for every student to gain experiences in another cultural setting: so many things cannot be learned in the classroom and have to be experienced in real life. Talking with the people, looking into their practices, and exchanging thoughts was a challenge for my mindset.
During my despedida or farewell party, I was not surprised to hear myself saying: “I learned more in these 4.5 months than in a whole year of studying.”
*Ms. Charlotte Floors worked as a student intern in the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) from November 2007 until March 2008.
March 8, 2014, Cocoon Boutique Hotel
Quezon City, Philippines